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While the list of "free to play" and just plain Free MMOs grows longer by the day, the quality of such games is generally accepted, and expected, to be quite low across the board. But one game that has been getting lots of buzz for its unique systems, beautiful graphics, and attentive development is Last Chaos, from Aeria Games.
Not only is Last Chaos free to play (no monthly subscription cost), it also is free to download and install. It only takes about 20 minutes to download and install (over a high speed connection) and you can immediately jump in, create a character, and start playing. Last Chaos is set in a medieval fantasy world, where mortals are locked in constant conflict following a war amongst Gods. Players must choose who they're going to align with by the actions they take in the game. In standard sword and sorcery game fashion, characters are broken down into classes that are either fighter (sword) or mage (sorcery) based.
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Storyline and Player Emersion
When visiting the Last Chaos official website, you may be inclined to view the game's introductory writeup to learn more about it. This page is where I learned about the actual storyline behind the game - none of which had even been hinted to me in the several hours I spent playing. While the writeup is nice, and something to keep in mind when you go to play the game, I wish that it had a greater presence in the game, especially in the early or introductory stages. As you progress deeper into the game you will realize that the path you are taking with your character ultimately has an impact on the fate of the world that you are playing in. Not everyone is on the same side, and there is no middle ground to stand on. You must choose how to align your character.
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The graphics in Last Chaos are some of the best I've seen in a free to play MMO. In truth, they are nicer even than some of the MMOs that you pay monthly for. Some of this is achieved by using a bump map technology that makes things appear highly detailed, but not require as much resources. "Bloom" effects are also used to make the world soft and bright. All in all, the game sports a stunning realism rarely seen in of its type.
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Personal Dungeon System
Last Chaos includes the capability for players to experience certain parts of the game alone and without interference from the rest of the game-world. This allows players to gain a sense of personal accomplishment, as well as receive great rewards in the way of items and money.
ERAS is the name of the combat system used in Last Chaos. It stands for Exciting Range of Aggressive Battle System, and essentially builds on the combat systems of other MMOs by adding a feature where damage against multiple targets is based on the range of the weapon swing. For example, in most games if you swing your axe at a target you will only hit that one target, even if there are three standing there. In Last Chaos, if you swing your axe everyone standing in the arch is going to get hit. This adds a high level of realism to the game.
Among some of the other features of Last Chaos are a basic crafting and trading system, Player vs Player vs Environment (the seemless integration of PvP and PvE) and a companion system which allows you to level up a pet, of sorts, to help you in your adventures.
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Does Last Chaos sound to good to be true? That's because I haven't shared with you any of the less desirable facts about the game. No game is perfect, and you certainly can't have overly high expectations from a game that costs you nothing.
Like many free MMOs, Last Chaos uses click-to-move. Essentially, the classic WASD buttons are rendered useless and you use your mouse to move your character by clicking on the ground. It takes some getting used to, but even after you have, it doesn't offer the same ease of mobility and situational awareness that I experience in WASD movement games.
The lag in large player hubs in Last Chaos is tramendous. The first time I entered a city (which happens roughly 2 minutes after you first start playing the game) I found my character locked in place for about 20 seconds - and I am on a top of the line system.
Even though the game rules explicitly state that you cannot use the games chat system to advertise or sell, this rule isn't being very strongly enforced. In the 15 minutes I spent in a player city I saw nothing but ad spam, the same annoying message over and over again. I'm guessing that seasoned players have found some way to communicate around this, perhaps with custom chat channels, but for a new player wanting to ask a question the shear amount of spam makes it impossible.